COMPOSERS: R Strauss
PERFORMER: Huther, Lars Woldt, Monica Mascus, Sandra Janke, Olena Tokar, Wilhelm Schwinghammer, Michael Kupfer, Andreas Burkhart, Ludwig Mittelhammer, Song Sung Min; Bavarian Radio Chorus; Kinderchor des Staatstheaters am Gärtnerplatz; Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ulf Schirmer
CATALOGUE NO: 777 920-2
If you wanted to catch Richard Strauss’s second and most unjustly neglected opera in the composer’s 150th birthday year, you had to go to Palermo, Dresden, or Munich, the city ambiguously viewed in Feuersnot (the title means both Need of Fire and Fiery Need) whence this performance hails. It’s a much-needed recording, since its only CD rival has long been unavailable. Unfortunately that’s superior to this one in the orchestral freedom – especially in the unexpected Bavarian waltzes – as well as the sensuality and the playfulness of its hero, sung by Bernd Weikl.
The best that can be said of Markus Eiche is that he’s stalwart and stays the course in the huge role of Kunrad, the sorcerer’s apprentice who punishes a girl for leaving him hanging beneath her bedroom window by putting out the Midsummer bonfires, which can only be relit if she yields her love-hungry body to him. Diemut, the girl, is the impressive Simone Schneider, who played Christine to Eiche’s Storch in last year’s release of the comedy Intermezzo. Ulf Schirmer’s conducting is on Eiche’s rather than Schneider’s level, but it’s texturally clear enough to give a sense of the fires that flicker and blaze through the piece. The smaller roles of citizens and Rhinemaidenish girlfriends are all taken with spirit, and the Gartnerplatz Theatre’s youth choir excels in some of opera’s trickiest children’s choruses.